That the Williams F1 team isn't quite up to its old form is no news. But back in its heyday, it was a force to be reckoned with, and then some. The team has seven drivers' championships and nine constructors' titles to its name – several of which came under Ford (2 and 2) and Honda (1 and 2) power. But far and away its best results were powered by Renault, with which it secured four drivers' and five constructors' championships.
The team's fortunes have declined sharply since then, switching to BMW power, then Cosworth and on to Toyota before switching back to Cosworth again. But the latest announcement brings Williams and Renault back together, the French company once again supplying Williams with its F1 engines.
The deal isn't all about nostalgia, however, and comes as Renault scales back its direct involvement in any particular team – selling much of its stake in its own team to Genii Capital and Lotus – in favor of its traditional engine-supplier role. Renault's engines powered Red Bull to both titles last year, which they are well on their way to defending again this season.
That's power that Williams is evidently glad to get on its side again, leaving the lackluster Cosworth engines to the back-markers as it vies to regain the winning form it enjoyed in the days of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. Details in the press release after the jump.
WILLIAMS RENAULT LEGENDARY PARTNERSHIP REVIVED FOR 2012
Renault Sport F1 and Williams F1 are delighted to announce a long-term chassis-engine partnership.
Renault Sport F1, the F1TM division of Renault, will supply AT&T Williams with its championship-winning V8 power units for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In addition to the supply of its Formula One engines, the newly-formed co-operation includes several other exciting business and marketing opportunities, with a view to continuing after the introduction of the new, energy efficient, turbocharged V6 engines in 2014.
The partnership is an exciting opportunity for both Renault Sport F1 and AT&T Williams. The original Anglo-French partnership enjoyed a hugely successful association between 1989 and 1997, yielding four Drivers' and five Constructors' titles and 63 race wins. It also produced some of the most evocative images of the 1990s, including Nigel Mansell's British Grand Prix win in 1992; Alain Prost's fourth world title and the classic duels between Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher.
Renault Sport F1 president, Bernard Rey, commented, "Renault remains in Formula One to achieve success in a cost efficient way and the partnership with Williams has great potential to add to the results we have notched up over recent years with our other partner teams. Williams has recently taken several important steps, both commercially and technically, to update its operations and we feel that this partnership is another important step in its rigorous plan. It reiterates how determined the team is to achieve results, which matches perfectly with our own objectives.
"From 2012 onwards the fact that we will have four partners puts us ahead of other engine manufacturers in terms of market share, but off track it will also enable us to further use Formula One as a marketing platform for our parent company, Renault, to try to bring a bit of this association to our fans and our customers worldwide.
"Of course there's also a great pride in reviving the Williams-Renault name. Together, we produced racing cars that are recognised for their technical innovation and it is still Renault's most successful period in F1 to date. It's a hugely exciting opportunity for both Renault and Williams."
Frank Williams, Team Principal of AT&T Williams, added, "We are delighted and excited by our new partnership with Renault. This reunites the F1 team with a leading car manufacturer and complements our new relationship with Jaguar. At the same time, we are grateful to Cosworth: they have been a fair and reliable partner both on and off the track for the past two years and we look forward to working with them across our business in the future.
"Our previous relationship with Renault was one of the most successful in Williams' history but we will not allow ourselves to dwell too much on the past. We must look to the future and continue to re-build our on-track reputation, which I am hopeful that today's announcement will help us to do."
About the Williams-Renault partnership
Williams and Renault launched their first challenger in 1989 with Renault developing a brand new 3.5l normally aspirated V10 engine for the changed engine regulations. In its first year of competition, the partnership won two Grands Prix and laid the foundations for the following year's car, the FW14, which was to go down in F1 legend as one of the greatest ever chassis-engine packages. So successful in fact that three iterations of the chassis were made, including the FW14B that dominated F1 in 1992, winning 10 of the 16 races and powering Nigel Mansell to the championship title as early as the mid-season Hungarian Grand Prix.
Mansell's was to be the first of the partnership's four drivers' titles, the others coming in 1993 (Prost) and then 1996 (Hill) and 1997 (Villeneuve), and five constructors' titles (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997).
Outside F1, Williams and Renault also collaborated on a touring car project in which Renault Lagunas were developed and raced in the British Touring Car Championship. Again, success came quickly and the partnership won all three Championships in 1997: the Drivers', Manufacturers' and Team Trophies. The partnership also designed and built the iconic Renault Clio Williams, one of the most prized hot-hatches of a generation.
About Renault Sport F1
Renault Sport F1 is the Formula One division of Renault that has been set up to oversee F1 technical and sporting activities. The main thrust of its work takes place at Viry-Châtillon, traditionally the technical hub of Renault's F1 activities, in the south of Paris. The RS27 V8 engines and future engine projects are designed, developed and tested using its state of the art facilities. This season, Renault Sport F1 supplies three teams in the FIA Formula One World Championship; Red Bull Racing, Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus. Each team receives identical engines that are maintained by a bespoke group of six engine specialists and technicians. This ability to adapt to the demands, cultures and ambience of different partner teams has been a key factor behind the success of Renault's engines throughout the company's long F1 history. To date, this approach has been rewarded with nine world titles in the Constructors' World Championship and eight titles in the Drivers' World Championship.
About Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC
Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC is the holding company of the Williams group of companies ("Group") which includes Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited and Williams Hybrid Power Limited. The Group has established the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar which is a branch of Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited.
The Group employs approximately 500 personnel throughout its business. Its revenues are currently derived almost exclusively from its Formula One business, including commercial sponsorships and the team's share of the Formula One commercial rights income. The Group's aim is to be a Championship-winning Formula One team and a world-class technology business generating steady returns for shareholders through the economic cycle.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited
Formed in 1977 by Frank Williams and Patrick Head, Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited's core competencies are the design and manufacture of Formula One race cars, and the deployment of this expertise in running the team's entries in each season's Grands Prix. As one of the world's leading Formula One teams, the company has secured 16 FIA Formula One World Championship titles in the past thirty years. Nine of these titles have been won in the Constructors' Championship in association with Cosworth, Honda and Renault. The remaining seven titles are Drivers' Championships, won with Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve.
The AT&T Williams team is one of the most vertically-integrated of Formula One teams with first-class design and manufacturing facilities on its 33 hectare site in Oxfordshire, England. Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited aims to develop substantial revenues from exploiting its brand, intellectual property and rapid development skills in projects outside Formula One.
Williams Technology Centre, Qatar
The Williams Technology Centre in Qatar's Science and Technology Park is developing large magnetically loaded composite flywheels (for use in trains or static applications such as grid stabilisation) and commercial applications of the Group's motorsport simulation technology.
Williams Hybrid Power Limited
Williams Hybrid Power Limited is a company specialising in magnetically-loaded composite flywheels which are used as an energy storage device in small and medium sized applications such as automobiles, buses, trams and light rail. Williams Hybrid Power technology recently helped power the hybrid Porsche 911 GT3 R to victory in the Nürburgring 4-hour endurance race.